So, I got this question from a reader (thanks, Sean!):
Good evening, Senator:
I’ve been watching UGA vs Alabama games during my vacation, and i wonder what the difference is, in your opinion.
Ultimately, I’d chalk it up to two factors:
- Alabama’s offensive line
- An extra year of experience under Sarkisian’s belt
As has already been documented, the talent level between the two programs is extremely close at this point. What separated ‘Bama last season, not just from Georgia, but from every other team in D-1, was an offense that was locked and loaded from the get-go. There was no transition to speak of with the Tide’s offense; the skill position guys were experienced and settled in the scheme that Sark ran. He, in turn, had already tweaked what he took from Lincoln Riley (no shame in that, as long as it worked — and it did) for a full season before 2020 and was thus able to focus on in-game play calling, something he clearly excelled at. The o-line was as good as I saw last season.
Compare Georgia with that. Matt Luke took over from Sam Pittman. Not only did he change the blocking schemes, but he had to do so while replacing both tackles. The Dawgs also plugged a new offensive coordinator into the mix, and while Monken was a clear upgrade from Coley, especially as a play designer, he wasn’t given any spring practice time to work with his charges. Add on top of that a quarterback situation that wasn’t resolved until the last third of the season and you’ve got an offense that was clearly working behind the eight ball compared with Alabama.
It feels a little strange to write all that without mentioning the defenses, but that’s how it played out, at least in my mind.
The good news is Georgia should be in similar straits to ‘Bama for ’21 in terms of comfort with the offensive scheme and the quality of the skill position players. What we don’t know — and what may ultimately determine how far the Dawgs go this season — is how well the o-line will mesh.
That’s all I got. What say y’all?